BA crew to strike next week, after court ruling: union

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British Airways cabin crew plan to go ahead with a five-day strike from next Monday after a court upheld their right to stage the action, union officials said Thursday.

"British Airways management now has a chance over the next three days to address our outstanding concerns and seize the possibility for industrial peace," said the Unite union.

"We hope it has the wisdom to do so. Failing that, cabin crew will once more be taking industrial action with our full support," said joint general secretaries Derek Simpson and Tony Woodley in a statement.

Two further threatened five-day strikes, starting on May 30 and June 5, would also go ahead "should there be no settlement to the dispute," they added.

The statement came hours after the union won an appeal against a court injunction which blocked a planned stoppage in a long-running dispute over pay and conditions.

BA had won the injunction blocking a first five-day strike -- due to have started on Tuesday -- by arguing that the union had failed to report the results of the ballot properly to its members.

BA said it was "very disappointed for our customers" that the appeal had been upheld and that the union intended to go ahead with "unjustified and pointless strikes".

It said it was confident that thousands of cabin crew would ignore the strike and that it would be able to fly more than 70 percent of its passengers during next week's planned walkout.

BA said it believed cabin crew would accept its offer "if it was put to them in a fair and secret ballot".

While BA and the union have reached broad agreement on the issue of pay, the sticking point is now the heavily discounted flights available to off-duty cabin crew -- key perks which have been taken away from workers who have gone on strike.

Despite the ruling in favour of BA on Monday, flights have been disrupted this week because the airline had taken pre-emptive action to accommodate the planned strike and was unable to reinstate all its services.

The airline won a High Court battle in December to stop a 12-day walkout over the busy Christmas and New Year holidays, when a judge granted an injunction.

BA also argued on that occasion that Unite's ballot was invalid.

But the union did stage walkouts in March, which were marked by sharp disagreements between the union and BA over the impact of the industrial action.

© 2010 AFP

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